All Fall Down by Ally Carter Review: Not About Spies

February 9, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

All Fall Down by Ally Carter Review: Not About SpiesAll Fall Down by Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row #1
Published by Scholastic Inc. Australia on January 20, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
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A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

There is one thing I need to say about this book: All Fall Down is not about spies, political espionage or global conspiracy. These things are over-emphasised based on its setting of foreign embassies. What it’s actually about, is a girl suffering from PTSD after witnessing her mother’s murder 10 years ago who clearly needs closure.

There is a steep learning curve to the book, as we’re given minimal information to introduce Grace as she arrives in the country of Adria. It took me a while to get my head around everything, and we’re expected to piece two and two together ourselves. Grace’s granddad is a high profile diplomat and she’s been sent to live with him in an embassy, in the home she lived at as a child. She is convinced she needs to solve her mother’s murder mystery, and begins pursuing the perceived killer.

“Congratulations,” I tell her with a slight bow. “I hope you and your power trip will be very happy together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to go.”

Grace was a quirky character who did nothing to convince me that she wasn’t crazy. She’s incredibly impulsive, headstrong and reckless, who is a lot more damaged than she lets on. Her internal dialogue was fascinating, revealing that of an unreliable narrator who withholds certain truths just to justify her behaviour. She will put herself in danger and go against authority to pursue her mother’s killer, but she actually has the veracity to convince others to go along with her. The fact that Grace was so fixated and even begins stalking was quite disturbing. But Grace is not supposed to be a character that we understand, or even symphasise with, and I think that’s realistic of someone suffering from trauma.

Life in a foreign embassy was actually pretty interesting. Grace’s friends are all from different nations, and merely showing up at one of their embassies (such as Russia) could lead to political tension, misunderstandings or perceived threats. While the political environment of the countries were quite similar to our own (such as America, Russia and Iran), I wish there was more world building about Adria itself, as it was posed as one of the world’s leading nations. This would have helped me understand Adria’s positioning between USA and UK a lot more, as I was lost on some of the finer idiosyncrasies which did come into play in the story.

This is not a murder mystery or much of a thriller, it’s more a story about a damaged girl who needs to find out the truth to heal. Once I understood that, I adjusted my expectations and I wasn’t surprised with the direction of the book or the ending, which is something that’s been done before. I was pleased with the absence of romance as Grace is dealing with enough as it is. That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be sexy Russian guys with intense stares, though.


I wanted so much more out of the book, and I was disappointed after finding out what it was actually about. I did end up enjoying it, even though it was a bit predictable. All Fall Down is a quick, snappy and intelligent read, where you will start to question what you know and put two and two together. Just don’t expect there to be much spying or political espionage, unless stalking other embassies counts (and apparently it does here).

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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46 responses to “All Fall Down by Ally Carter Review: Not About Spies

  1. If you just leave out the end of the title, it's actually a great book. I believe the saying "don't judge a book by its cover" fits in perfectly for this book. It's well written, detailed and addicting to read! I'm sorry that you didn't like it as much as I did.

  2. Benish K

    I've been hearing mixed reviews about this one – I'm pretty sure I have an ARC of this somewhere in my kindle, sad you didn't enjoy it as much 🙁 Love your honest reviews!
    My recent post Mailbox Monday #6 ♥

  3. Sunny @ A Sunny Spot

    I loved Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series! She just does spy so well so I was quite keen to read that part of All Fall Down. Is a shame there doesn't appear to be much of that in there. However, a easy and intelligent read totally appeals to me right now. Great review Jeann!
    My recent post January Round Up

  4. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    Ah that sucks. I've loved other Ally Carter books, so maybe I'll like this one? Either way, I'll lower my expectations just in case! Great review, Jeann!

  5. Oh no! I thought it was about conspiracy theories and mysteries galore. Wah, now I will have to readjust my expectations as well. Keen for the sexy Russian stare though hehe. Great review Jeann, sorry it disappointed you 🙁

  6. Eugenia

    Wow I definitely had some preconceived notions about this book then! It;s always surprising when you think a book is about one thing and it turns out to have a totally different focus. Either way, I still hope to read this soon – I'm curious now 🙂 Lovely review as always Jeann 😀
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday: Vanishing Girls

  7. danielleisbusyreading

    Hmm. I'm sorry this one didn't quite work for you! I, too, though it was a mystery-thriller, so even though Grace sounds like an interesting characters, I'm not so sure I want to pick this up yet. :/ Plus the lack of romance isn't what I want to hear. 😛
    Hopefully you're next read will be AMAZING. Great review, lady!

  8. Oh yes. This book was such a disappointment. Grace made me so mad. But if there's one thing the author is successful on, it's the fact that she made me question Grace's sanity as well.

    • Yes, if I read a review before going into it and realising it wasn't about spies, I might have appreciated it a lot more you know?

  9. It's always annoying when you are really excited to pick up a book, and then find out that it has nothing to do with what it's being advertised as. 😐 While I'm glad you liked this despite that, now that I know what the book is really about I'm not sure I'm still as interested as I was before reading your review. Anyhow, thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3
    My recent post Inherit Midnight

  10. Well then, I guess this might not be the book for me since the major reason I was interested in this was for mystery reasons. I also do NOT enjoy reading about reckless characters because I just don't understaaand how anyone can make decisions without thinking them through! It's so frustrating!


    But, I am glad you managed to like this one even though it wasn't perfect, Jeann! 🙂

    Lovely review, hon <3
    My recent post Recaps, Rants, Raves: The 100, Season 2 Episode 5: HOLY SHIT CHARACTER COMPLEXITY

  11. I actually never read anything from Aly Carter even though I know her other series is really popular. I can see you getting disappointed when you expected something and got something else that's totally different. The main character sounds interesting though and I wonder if I'm going to enjoy this more now that I know what I'm in for. This does look like a start of a series and I'm liking this trend of a romantic arc throughout the whole series, not the book which is what I feel this will be? Lovely review, as always Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post Review: The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

    • Yes, I heard so much hype about it that I went in disappointed with Heist Society. I think her stories tend to be a bit more sassy but foregoing the action. There probably will be a romance developed later, not in this book though!

    • I know, I totally didn\’t realise it would be about that, which lead to my feelings about the book. The MC was interesting though. Thanks Nick!

  12. I gotta say, I enjoyed this much more than you have, and I'm sad you didn't like it more, BUT, I can totally see your points here. It's not very political, it's also not very 'get-into-the-nitty-gritty-of-espionage' and it does imply that, so it's not the best thing in the world, but hey, you still enjoyed it, and that makes me a hapy happy blogger! 😀
    My recent post Book Review – The Rain

    • I know, the false marketing made it so disappointing you know? It is very light on the action and thriller stuff, but Grace was really interesting.

  13. karawrites15

    Huh. I thought this one would be more of a thriller / mystery, so now I'm a little put off by that and the predictability of the book, but I know I'll give it a chance. (Besides, the cover is beautiful!) And I do like quirky characters so I hope I'll like this one. Shame you didn't like this one more!
    My recent post Liebster Award

    • Yeah, it\’s got very light elements of both of those, but overall it was more about the character development. Keen on hearing your thoughts Kara, I hope you enjoy it more.

    • IKR? I totally thought it was going to be about that, but nope. There\’s only 1 spy in it and it\’s someone\’s mum that is mentioned in passing! Hope this helps with your expectations, Cait.

  14. "Grace was a quirky character who did nothing to convince me that she wasn’t crazy. She’s incredibly impulsive, headstrong and reckless, who is a lot more damaged than she lets on"

    Hahaha … That right there is what just convinced me to read this. I wasn't all that interested until now.
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  15. Katie @ RITR

    Reading from the point of view of an unreliable narrator is really fun I find, I like trying to figure whats true and whats just their brand of crazy. It sucks that the synopsis of this book is misleading because whatever book thats describing sounds awesome. Thanks for the great review as always Jeann
    My recent post Book Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

    • Yeah, it took me a while to figure out that she was an unreliable narrator though, I just wish I was prepared for it so I could appreciate it more.